Ordering breakfast at the local Coney Island, an expressive young waitress sported a tag bearing the good Irish name of my eldest daughter. When I complimented her on her parents’ fine choice, the quick response was familiar: “Usually customers tell me I have the same name as their dog.”
I explained we’d chosen it for our girl for its meaning of “brave”–a title appropriate for a tiny preemie whose every ounce was a challenge. There was some comfort in bestowing on that tiny child a name with a promise of boldness. Fearless things come in small packages. So they did.
My second lass’s name just won a contest. Her old English name turned up in a recent Patch poll of “.”
“Go figure” she says. Not the first time she’s heard that.
This daughter carries a moniker meaning “steward” or “bailiff.” Living with three lawyers, she’s proven her stewardship as the peacemaker of the family. I can’t imagine her sweet disposition by any other name. Plus, sharing a name with many loyal, devoted creatures isn’t so bad?
It was no bombshell that the handle agreed upon for our new puppy was eminently human, yet he’s a “Ralph” through and through, his first and favorite toy a stuffed cigar. Ralph’s got a weakness for pretty brunettes, loves steak bits and takes on critters four times his size, once chasing a coyote out of the yard. So the German derivate of “wolf counsel” seems apropos for our fury fella.
Shooter the black lab was so deigned in the hope that he’d assist during sporting expeditions to the range, retrieving from the hunt. Now he’s “Shooty,” who prefers chasing leaves in the yard. That’s when a nickname comes in handy. Hoss, another black lab, mimics his Bonanza namesake in size, temperament, and voracious appetite. Butternut the kitten, named for the urban street where she was found, is now known as “Nut” for her loopy disposition.
Does a name create an expectation of identity or personality? Do we each fulfill our name’s destiny? Michael Jackson named his son “Blanket.” Sounds warm and fuzzy, but the young man may have some quick explaining to do on the playground. Choosing a name for another being is the first point of impact. Sometimes creative adaptation is required.
One thing's immutable. Ralph’s name will never appear on the family Christmas card. The family “dog contract” contained specific language barring any future pet’s name from appearing in the signatures below the annual holiday greeting. He is also prohibited from wearing doggie clothing by virtue of that same agreement.
Of course, no one anticipated our pup couldn’t wear hats, or appear in a holiday picture? Flexiblity’s the key to a happy co-existence.